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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed that his state would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for children, a day after a panel at the CDC voted that the shot should be officially recommended to all children six months and older.

Speaking at a press conference for Hurricane Ian relief measures, DeSantis took some time while addressing reporters about Hurricane Ian relief measures to make his stance on the children’s vaccine loud and clear.

‘As long as I’m kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID shot mandates for your kids,’ DeSantis said. ‘That is your decision to make as a parent.’

The CDC‘s recommendation does not constitute a mandate that children must get them, but opponents are arguing that it opens the door to it. 

DeSantis – considered by many to be possible challenger to Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential ticket – has been a stalwart opponent of any COVID related mandates, refusing throughout the pandemic to impose on Floridians many of the restrictive measures which became standard practice throughout the country.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed that his state would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for children, a day after a panel at the CDC voted that the shot should be officially recommended to all children six months and older

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed that his state would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for children, a day after a panel at the CDC voted that the shot should be officially recommended to all children six months and older

The CDC's recommendation does not constitute a mandate that children must get them, but opponents are arguing that it opens the door to it

The CDC’s recommendation does not constitute a mandate that children must get them, but opponents are arguing that it opens the door to it

DeSantis said that since the CDC recommendation he has received numerous inquiries about whether or Florida children would be required to be vaccinated to attend school. 

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He also baulked at comparisons of the COVID-19 shot to standard vaccines required for schoolchildren, saying that the COVID shot was still brand new.  

‘I get a kick out of it when people kind of compare it to (measles, mumps and rubella shots) and things that have been around for decades and decades,’ DeSantis said. 

‘Parents, by and large, most parents in Florida have opted against doing these booster shots, particularly for young kids.’ 

‘These are new shots,’ he added. ‘Basically, his reason for that is there’s not been a proven benefit for that.’

DeSantis is not the only conservative taking a preemptive stand against vaccine mandates for children.

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie said that the committee’s decision ‘will precipitate [Covid] vax mandates to attend schools and play sports in many states’. 

Meanwhile, Dr Margery Smelkinson, an infectious disease scientist at the National Institutes of Health, said: ‘Anyone saying this won’t lead to a mandate hasn’t been paying attention.’  

While it is common for schools to require vaccinations before a child can attend, states choose for themselves whether to make certain shots compulsory. 

The flu and HPV vaccines for example are on the CDC’s schedule but not required at all public schools for attendance. 

The committee which held the vote meets annually to review and update the vaccination schedule, which is meant to help guide clinicians in determining when a child should receive different shots for preventable diseases such as polio and measles.

Dr Margery Smelkinson, an infectious disease scientist at the National Institutes of Health, said, 'Anyone saying this won't lead to a mandate hasn't been paying attention.'

Dr Margery Smelkinson, an infectious disease scientist at the National Institutes of Health, said, ‘Anyone saying this won’t lead to a mandate hasn’t been paying attention’ 

ACIP members were conscious of criticisms similar to Rep Massie’s in the discussion Thursday. 

‘We recognize that there is concern around this, but moving Covid to the recommended immunization schedule does not impact what vaccines are required for school entrance, if any,’ said Dr Nirav Shah, an ACIP member and director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Threat of mutant Covid strain looms

The concerning new strain, XBB, is another omicron spinoff.

It has sent cases soaring in Singapore where cases have doubled in the past two weeks.

The strain is able to resist some protection conferred through vaccines.

It has accumulated mutations in its receptor binding domain, a key part of the spike protein where antibodies dock and block infections. 

It is unknown whether the strain is more virulent, or likely to cause severe disease or death. 

Children are typically at much lower risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19 compared to older adults and have so far not been prioritized for vaccines.

The relatively low risk that Covid-19 poses to children has convinced some infectious disease experts that vaccines are not necessary to protect otherwise healthy kids. 

Vaccine makers have not yet presented extensive real world evidence pointing to how well the pediatric shots perform. 

‘This vaccine has (a) no convincing evidence it helps the 86% of kids who already had covid & (b) no evidence it will help kids in 2027 against whatever new strain comes,’ said Dr Vinay Prasad, a practicing hematologist – oncologist and health researcher at the University of California San Francisco. 

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Another elected official, Texas Republican Rep Chip Roy, also called the vaccine ‘unnecessary’ for healthy children, ‘especially when there are REAL concerns about the shot’s risks.’ 

Roy argued that the risk of adverse events such as myocarditis, a rare but severe condition that causes inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause chest pain and shortness of breath. 

Most cases of myocarditis following vaccination have been in young men and teen boys are were typically mild. 

The committee’s unanimous vote on Thursday follows the CDC’s decision last week to authorize bivalent booster shots for children as young as 5. 

Booster shot uptake remains low among the youngest children, who are less vulnerable to severe infection than older Americans. The CDC recommends that children as young as five get a booster shot.

Booster shot uptake remains low among the youngest children, who are less vulnerable to severe infection than older Americans. The CDC recommends that children as young as five get a booster shot. 

The CDC tracking shows that demand for shots is low across age groups

The CDC tracking shows that demand for shots is low across age groups

The updated shots were designed specifically to target the Omicron variant and its offshoots. 

But uptake of the bivalent booster remains low across age groups. Less than half of eligible Americans five and up have yet to even get a first booster shot. 

Booster uptake last year swelled amid fears of a growing omicron wave but have since stabilized. 



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